A project like this does not happen overnight, planning already took a year, and then the wait for meadows to grow, trees to reach a size where they can be planted out… But here is an overview of the main steps that we needed to achieve.

This was already started in Spring 2020, and continued in 2021, 2022 and 2023, with a selection of pear varieties from England, Germany, Austria France and Switzerland. In 2023 we had over 300 young trees in our two small nurseries, so we have more trees than we can fit on the proposed orchard plot (which we now call the Phase 1 Orchard). However, we will continue to graft other varieties in the coming years, especially endangered ones, in the hope of expanding the orchard later.

This is the single biggest action for which we need help. We spent months seeking suitable plots that farmers might be willing to sell, and with the help of our local forester, were able to find someone willing to sell us a small plot of land. This we did at the end of 2021.

This plot was under tillage, so in order for the meadow seed mix to have the best start to life, some basic preparation needed to be done, to gently till and roll the ground. The regionally certified mix of grasses and flowers that we sowed was rather expensive, so sponsors really help towards this goal too. The mix was be sown in April 2022, in accordance with the guidelines, but as it was such a dry year, growth was not great. We left it for another year to mature, and in 2023 it put on a great display! It is now ready to plant.

The best time to plant trees is in Autumn. They get a good start to be able to develop roots in their new location before the growing season starts. This is probably the biggest step, and one that makes me nervous!

If the trees are still small, protective tubing may be used to keep deer and hares at bay, and later posts and wire mesh till they are established.

For the first few years, maintenance will likely be the occasional mowing (once or twice a year), keeping the trees shaped, and watering. Watering in a remote location is an onerous task, but if we get summers like the past three years it will be essential to get the trees established. If we get a summer like 2021, then they will be well cared for by mother nature!

The meadow and orchard are the main goals, but we wish to add other features to encourage wildlife to take up residence. Probably simple things like piles of dead wood, perches for the kestrels and red kites that abound here, and if space allows, mixed fruit hedging to provide food for birds and small mammals.